San Francisco could get a safe drug consumption site as early as next spring
SAN FRANCISCO - The City of San Francisco is pursuing a policy to allow safe consumption sites to address the problem of drug overdoses and open use on city streets.
Mayor London Breed's office on Tuesday confirmed the first facility of its kind in San Francisco, where drug use would be supervised, could open as soon as spring of 2022 in the Tenderloin District.
Mayor Breed was not available for comment. However, a representative from her office told KTVU the cost of a site proposed at the corner of Geary Boulevard and Hyde Street is at $6.3 million.
The city gave an address of 822 Geary Blvd. On Google Maps that address shows a recently-shuttered Goodwill store. The space is an 8,875 square-foot building and an adjacent 2,186 vacant lot, which is notably a parking lot at the moment.
The source of the funding comes from Proposition C and has already been allocated to the city's Department of Public Health for behavioral health uses.
In 2018, city voters passed Prop. C, a gross receipts tax measure for homelessness services. As much of $300 million of that money was tied up in court, before it was freed up some two years later.
The City is looking to partner with nonprofits to operate these sites and to identify other potential locations.
The city has been toying with the idea of safe injection and consumption sites for some time. And while these facilities are not legally allowed by the state or federal government, they have garnered the support of State Sen. Scott Wiener. Wiener has been behind repeated efforts to legalize supervised safe-injection sites through a pilot program. Meanwhile, that legislation awaits action from state legislators who have not taken up the bill.
On Tuesday, Mayor Breed introduced her own legislation before the Board of Supervisors to authorize purchase of the site for behavioral health needs. The city has already approved legislation to allow safe-consumption sites.
"In addition to Board approval, we will examine other steps before deciding on opening a Safe Consumption Site on a portion of this property, including reaching out to appropriate state and federal government authorities," Andy Lynch, a spokesperson from the mayor's office said.
According to drugpolicy.org, a source cited in a Department of Nursing blog for University of Southern California, the drugs in the facilities are pre-obtained and consumed under the supervision of trained staff. In addition, the supplies are sterile and the facility provides not only a safe environment for those who consume, but also gets the activity off from the streets.
SEE ALSO: Bay Area lawmaker again pushes for safe injection sites
The facilities would also provide case management and access to medical care.
In an interview on KTVU's The 7, District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, said there is evidence these facilities can help.
"We know that these sites can save lives. Here in the Tenderloin we have public drug use that is unacceptable on our streets and sidewalks. People are dying at nearly two people a day. And so we need to get people inside, off the streets, save their lives and get them into care and treatment," Haney said.
The opioid epidemic and fentanyl have ravaged the city, with fatal drug overdoses overshadowing COVID deaths in recent years.
The mayor's office said the city will continue to push for other innovative solutions such as the Street Overdose Response Teams and SOMA Rise Sobering Center to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.